Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Memoir Writing Workshops

New class forming:

On the next two Mondays, March 1 and March 8, 2010, I'll be holding another two session series to help people jump-start their memoir writing projects. This series will be held at The Sand Trap Room at Tupelo Bay in Garden City, SC from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, and I always eagerly look forward to meeting the new group of writers and giving them the tools to get them started. Call me at 843-215-4676 if you'd like to attend.

The stories that emerge from these workshops are beyond imagination. It takes immense courage to exhume the skeletons of the distant past, snippets of dark experiences long buried, and shine a probing light on them--even momentarily. I have tremendous admiration for those who have been able to do this because there is a healing that can bind those ancient wounds when you view the past trauma as a mature adult. Bitterness eats at your heart from the inside out, and if you are a survivor of any kind of childhood abuse, expelling that burden that can produce hatred and anger, allows you to forgive and move beyond it. As I learned from a recent student, those experiences, as unfair and unconscionable as they are, can make you a person who wants to avoid the same type of behavior. To your monumental credit, you want to be someone who treats people with love and respect. My heart goes out to those who have been victims of childhood abuse--there is no excuse for it and no child should ever have to endure it. God bless you in healing those scars.

Writing at the beach:

Sometimes on sunny, but chilly, winter days when the breeze from the ocean is a bit too brisk for setting up my writing camp on the sand--beach chair, small folding table, bottled water and a snack, mini-pillow for my back, and ample supply of sun screen, I drive to one of two or three special locations where I can park my car and enjoy an expansive view of the ocean or the inlet. I might bring my lunch to enjoy while gazing out at the massive body of water that stretches as far as the eye can see, and/or bring a writing or reading project or my womens' Bible study lessons to work on in this inspiring atmosphere.

For the past couple of afternoons, I've done exactly that, and I love every moment of this solitude. Although yesterday, I took a long beach walk, I also spent considerable time just sitting in my car, working on my projects. The interesting thing is that I'm not the only one. At one of my favorite locations, I often see the same people sitting in their cars--reading the newspaper or a magazine or a book. Some people drive in, park, and just sit there mesmerized by the crashing waves, puffy white clouds, people walking their adorable dogs, and the sheer serenity.

If you are an ocean lover, there is a magnetic force that pulls you toward the shore line just to capture a glimpse of the scenery that lowers your blood pressure and sends a wave of the peaceful, easy feeling through you as soon as the foaming water is in view. This is evidenced by the steady stream of cars, many sporting northern license plates, that I witnessed pulling into the parking lot during my automobile work time in the past two days. They drove in, maneuvered as close to the beach as cars are allowed to venture, drivers and passengers stared out at the rolling sea for a moment, and then exited the parking lot. Perhaps this is a daily routine for them during their Myrtle Beach area stay, or perhaps this was the last day of their vacation, and they just wanted one final peek at their beloved ocean. The fascinating aspect was that there was a steady stream of such vehicles, countless drivers in the quest for one last view. The parking lot was so busy with this activity that for a moment, it reminded me of the drive through at the bank or a fast food restaurant. I totally relate. That's why I'm sitting there working on my next novel....or making my "to do" list or my grocery list or my prayer list. It's where I feel closest to God--where He breathes down on me and says, "You are My child." So rather than being annoyed with the ocean gawkers driving past me, temporarily partially blocking my view, I say, "Enjoy, my friend. I totally understand."


Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am somewhat exercise obsessed. That's because if I don't stick with it almost daily, my clothing begins to strain at the seams. I know that it's a lifetime commitment--along with making the appropriate food choices. As a friend said a couple of days ago, "It's all about calories in vs. calories out." But I have to tell you that I made an amazing discovery the other day. How often do you pull on a pair of pants that suddenly seems to have reduced by one size while in the dryer? Then you say to yourself, it's me--it's not the dryer. I must be gaining weight. Well, I have some news for you. A couple of years ago, I found a particular pair of pants that I liked. So I bought them in two additional colors. I had black, brown and khaki. For some reason, I seemed to wear the black and brown pairs more frequently and, therefore, they experienced the force of the washer & dryer on a regular basis. Okay, same style, same designer, same size, but the khakis fit much more loosely. So, it really COULD be your drier and not your chubby body that makes your clothing feel too tight sometimes. I'll admit that this isn't always the case, but this semi-scientific study does prove the possibility. So I feel better just knowing that! It's time for me to close this post and hop on my jogging trampoline!

Until the next time.....may God richly bless and keep you!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Future Personal Historian


At Thanksgiving, 2009, my eight year old niece, Lauren, (okay, Lauren, I know you're nine now, but you were eight then) was working on a school assignment that involved interviewing a relative to obtain portions of their history. I was beyond delighted to see her asking Mom the questions, as I've been working on Mother for ages to capture as many memories as she is ready and willing to share. Somehow, she seemed to be more cooperative with Lauren than she is with me! I'm only joking, Mom, as I know you'll be reading this!!
In my opinion, as a Personal Historian, who teaches workshops and works with individual clients to help them preserve their stories for future generations, it is never too early to begin interacting with relatives, asking questions, recording answers, and gaining a deeper understanding of the life experiences of these folks while the opportunities remain. The driving force behind my decision to participate in the Soleil Lifestory Network program to certify as a lifewriting instructor was relative to a tour of Pearl Harbor where I recalled that my own Dad had been in the Army, stationed at Schofield Barracks and was at Hickam Field when Pearl Harbor was bombed. I was stricken with emotion when I realized that now, after being right there on the memorial, hearing the historical details, and having a heightened sense of what had occurred there, I had tons of questions to ask my Dad about his experience, but it was too late. He had passed away about five years prior to my trip to Hawaii.
I realize that many Veterans will tell you that they really don't offer much dialog about their experiences, particularly if it was as traumatic as his story must have been. What saddened me is that I had never asked. If I had ever sat down with him, small tape recorder in hand, and asked him the appropriate questions in a gentle, loving manner, I'm certain that he would have told me everything that he could recall. Shame on me for never taking the initiative. So that is why I drive my Mom crazy about wanting to preserve her stories, and why I think it was fabulous that Lauren has a teacher who understands the importance of giving an assignment of this nature. Kudos to all teachers who require students to spend some time interviewing a relative!
Tomorrow morning, I have a telephone consultation scheduled with a gentleman whose daughter-in-law was stuck sitting next to me on a flight last fall. Anyone who has the misfortune of being my captive audience usually gets to hear exactly what I do and why. She loved the idea that helping people capture their stories is my business, and she ordered a gift certificate for her father-in-law's birthday. She had recently given birth to her first child, and after her conversation with me, she knew that she wanted her son to be blessed with his grandfather's history. I don't know why it always amazes me that God brings certain people into my path at His perfect timing, but He perpetually does. As I teach my upcoming memoir writing workshops in Litchfield, SC, I know that I'll be touching precisely the people who will benefit from the knowledge I'll be imparting. The best part is that what I teach them will also positively impact their future generations. It's a warm and cozy feeling.

God bless & see y'all again soon!